In Memoriam

David Stanley McLellan
Professor Emeritus of Political Science

David Stanley McLellan, Professor Emeritus of Political Science died Sunday, February 21, 2010, at his home in Yellow Springs, Ohio. He was 85.Dave McLellan was the son of hardworking Scottish immigrants who learned that with determination and education he could rise and make a difference in society. He championed civil rights, became a widely admired and respected teacher who touched the lives of countless students, wrote dozens of articles and books on post-World War II international relations, and raised four children with Ann, his beloved wife of 65 years. Dave was born December 24, 1924 in Brooklyn, New York. His father Charles was a veteran of the Great War and a skilled bricklayer. During the hardest years of the Depression, unable to find steady work in his trade, Charles sold household supplies door-to-door. Dave’s mother Jessie took cooking and cleaning jobs, and the family rented out the first floor of its small house in Harmon on Hudson and moved upstairs.

Though the Depression years were difficult, “Red,” as his wife and old friends called him for his red hair, often recounted events during this period with a twist of self-deprecating humor. As a teenager, for example, one of his jobs was delivering newspapers which, Dave later wrote in his essay “Dogs I Have Known”:

. . . opened two windows in my life. It meant that every afternoon for an hour and a half, as I read the news stories on the front page, I acquired a knowledge of what was going on in the world that exceeded that of anyone but the most educated and attentive person. . . . [T]he Spanish Civil War, Roosevelt’s Court Packing Plan, the rise of Hitler’s Germany, the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, the Japanese invasion of China and Stalin’s great purge trials unfolded before me day after day as I trudged on my daily rounds. . . . The other window that the paper route opened was into the lives of other people — better educated, professional people — whom I’d never have gotten to know had I not met them from time to time when making my weekly collection.

A track scholarship served as Dave’s ticket to Yale University in 1942. While at Yale, Dave continued to court his high school sweetheart Ann Handforth. Dave and Ann were married in 1945 just before he left for the Pacific where he served as a navigator and bombardier on a B29 during the war’s final months. The memories of firebombed Japanese cities haunted him long after the war, and he was thankful to have been spared the horror of ground combat. After Japan’s surrender, his crew flew supplies to starving prisoners in northern Korea. He charted the flight and found that they could fly over Shanghai on the way north and over Hiroshima on the return. As they flew over Shanghai, he recalled years later, the sky was filled with kites celebrating the war’s end. When they reached their destination, one of the big canisters of supplies would not dislodge from the bomb bay. A bit like thescene in “Dr. Strangelove,” Dave had to climb out over the open bomb bay holding on to the straps and kick the canister loose. The return flight was far more somber, as the plane passed over the destruction wrought by an atomic bomb.

Returning to Yale, Dave finished a Bachelor’s Degree in 1948. Then he and Ann left for Europe where Dave earned a License en Sciences Politiques from the University of Geneva, and they both enjoyed bicycling around the continent. Following a Master’s Degree in international relations from Yale, Dave, Ann and new daughter Hilary departed for Grenoble, France, where he conducted research for his PhD dissertation, and where Michele was born. At the same time, as a contract employee for the Central Intelligence Agency, Dave scouted the Alps and measured fields where Allied airplanes might land if the Soviet Union invaded Europe. (The McLellan family photo collection from that time is replete with images of Alpine meadows.) Later, when the CIA invited Dave to join its efforts in Vietnam, his wife Ann, now mother to three young daughters--Marjorie had joined Hilary and Michele--put her foot down at the idea of a separation.In 1955 the family moved to Riverside, California, where Dave was a founding member of the Political Science Department at the University of California, and where son Eric was born. In California, Dave became deeply involved in Democratic politics and the civil rights movement. Dave’s parents had left Scotland in part to escape rigid class differences, and as a child, he had felt the sting of being at the low end of the social pecking order because his parents were immigrants, and later he sensed the scorn of his more privileged classmates at Yale. An incident he never forgot was a visiting African-American college friend of his younger brother Robert being turned away from a public swimming pool. Dave would target his passion for justice and equality on the rights due African-Americans. In addition to public statements, he frequently and emphatically admonished his children about the wrongs of racial prejudice, deliberately sought to befriend and support colleagues of color, and along with Ann opened their home to leaders of the movement who visited California to tell their story, recruit backers, and raise funds.

Dave was not afraid to take unpopular positions, even when they might put him at risk. As a young, untenured professor in the 1950s, he spoke out forcefully and publicly against the repressive tactics of the House Un-American Activities Committee. He also predicted the Soviet Union would be too busy with a rivalrous China to menace the United States, controversial words in the 50s and 60s. Dave was active in voicing his opinion that the U.S. involvement in the war in Vietnam was tragically mistaken. In 1969, teenage daughter Michele was only mildly surprised to run into her father at an anti-war rally in Riverside.Dave and Ann instilled a love of travel in their children and opened their eyes to the world beyond the United States. In 1966, he accepted a two-year post as director of the University of California’s program in Bordeaux, France. They enrolled their children in French public schools, determined that they learn another language and understand another society. The family--in a VW bus and camping along the way--toured much of Western Europe.

In 1971 Dave joined the Political Science Department at Miami. As at UC Riverside, he was a devoted and popular teacher. Miami colleague, Steve DeLue, recalled:

I remember so vividly what a beloved teacher he was to his students. He was one of the finest scholars the department ever had, but this did not take any time from his attention to students, which was limitless. He would sit in his office writing comments on mountains of papers from his exceptionally large classes. He had large classes because the students loved him so much.

Dave was particularly generous in the time and effort he dedicated to the many graduate students he mentored. A significant number of these students went on to establish distinguished academic careers. Thus, Dave’s voice still may be heard in university classrooms, not only in the U.S., but also in at least a half dozen countries around the world.

In a long and productive scholarly career Dave published numerous books and articles in the field of international affairs and foreign policy. The Cold War in Transition became required reading at many universities in the 1960s and 1970s. The Theory and Practice of International Relations, which he co-edited with Fred Sondermann and William Olson, went through six editions and was widely adopted in international relations classes. Dave’s path-breaking work on the operational code of political leaders resulted in two critically appraised biographies, Dean Acheson: The State Department Years, and Cyrus Vance. He also edited a volume of Acheson’s personal letters, entitled Among Friends. The Acheson biography won the Truman Library David Lloyd Prize for the best book on the Truman era during 1975-77, and in a New York Times book review, the eminent American diplomatic historian, Gaddis Smith, wrote: “this is a good book; careful, thoroughly researched, the product of more than a decade’s work. Acheson’s voluminous published work and his rich unpublished papers have been used to excellent advantage. Acheson would be pleased with the portrait.”

Dave’s stature as a scholar in the field of international relations was widely recognized. He was awarded a Ford International Relations Post-doctoral Fellowship in 1959, a fellowship at the John Hopkins University Center for Foreign Policy Research in 1963, a Rockefeller Fellowship at the Villa Serbelloni, Italy, in 1970, a Clare Hall Fellowship in Cambridge, England in 1982, and a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship in Washington, D.C. in 1983. He served as president of the Midwest section of the International Studies Association from 1978-1980 and was an associate editor of the journal Diplomatic History for many years.In addition to his teaching and research, Dave carried his full share of administrative responsibilities at Miami. He chaired the Finch Lecture Committee, which brought a series of prominent diplomats to campus as guest lecturers. He also chaired the Rhodes Scholarship Selection Committee and the committee charged with selecting manuscripts for publication under the joint imprimatur of the Miami-Ohio State University Press. In 1982-1983 Dave served as interim chair of the Department of Political Science.

Notwithstanding the long hours devoted to professional responsibilities, Dave found time to voice support for human rights and argue for a more enlightened American foreign policy grounded in lessons that should have been learned from past errors. Dave and Ann, along with a small group of colleagues and friends, were founding members of an Oxford chapter of Amnesty International in 1979. Dave sent off a steady stream of cogent, eloquent appeals urging foreign governments to respect international human rights norms in cases reporting grave violations, or advocating reforms and greater human rights compliance in U.S. policy. Dave took the responsibilities of citizenship in a democratic society very seriously and was an inspiration to those who knew him. Sumit Ganguly, a former student who has achieved prominence as a scholar and is himself a major contributor to foreign policy debates, reflected that Dave served not only as a “superb mentor but a moral exemplar.”

In 1986 Dave retired from his full-time position at Miami, but continued teaching until 1990. In retirement, Dave enjoyed admiring Impressionist landscape paintings, listening to opera and Scottish folk music, reading Wordsworth and the British Romantic poets, and writing about his experiences. He found a haven of peace and beauty at the cabin he built with his family on the north coast of Prince Edward Island, Canada, and took great pleasure in spending time with his family, which grew to include three grandchildren. Despite failing hearing and eyesight and the cruel onslaught of Alzheimer’s, Dave remained remarkably connected to the world around him. He learned to use a hand-held scanner to read articles one word at a time on a large television screen. Until about a week before his death, he read several pieces from The New York Times each day and was always ready to discuss or explain a thorny national or international issue, whether it was religious conflict or the economic meltdown.

Dave is survived by his wife, Ann Handforth McLellan of Yellow Springs; son Eric, daughter Marjorie and son-in-law Gary Greenberg, all of Yellow Springs; daughter Michele McLellan of Phum Thum, Cambodia; son-in-law Roger Wyatt of Saratoga Springs, New York; grandson Jesse Greenberg of Los Angeles, and granddaughters Cara Greenberg of Columbus and Hypatia McLellan of Yellow Springs. His oldest daughter Hilary preceded him in death in October 2009.

Memorials may be sent to the David S. McLellan Scholarship at Miami University, 920 Chestnut Lane, Oxford, OH 45056.

Respectfully submitted by Steve DeLue, Will Hazleton, William Jackson, Frank Jordan, and Michele and Marjorie McLellan.